Scientific News

Hookahs: study highlights health hazards

Health risks regarding hookah use have been highlighted in a new study published on Aerosol Science and Technology by researchers at the University of California at Irvine.

By analyzing the emissions during various sessions of smokers who used hookahs, the researchers noticed the presence of various toxic and harmful chemicals in addition to nicotine. Among the various compounds, they also noted the presence of irritating carbonyl compounds and carbon monoxide.

“And because of the greater volume inhaled for each puff and the longer duration of a smoking session, the hookah often provides a greater dose of these chemicals to the smoker,” says Veronique Perraud, a researcher at the chemistry department of that university.

The research team also investigated the effect of a nicotine-free herbal blend marketed as a healthier alternative to classic tobacco. They discovered that with the latter there were even higher levels of toxic substances present than smoke.

Among the various tools that the researchers used there is also a pair of mass spectrometers, including a unique model designed by the Smith Group at the same university, to accurately measure the chemical composition of the gases and solids emitted during the sessions of smoke with the almost real hookah.

It is a different method than the previous ones to highlight toxic compounds of smoke: the “classic” method sees the collection of samples from a filter at the end of the session. However, this new technique made it possible to carry out measurements during various steps of the session, at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of it: “We were able to demonstrate that a smoker is exposed to a greater quantity of ultrafine particles during the 10 minutes ahead of the rest of the time,” says Perraud herself.

The same scientist also disproves the myth about the use of hookah that should see the water in the bowl filter toxic chemicals providing a sort of protection for smokers: “In the study, we show that this is not the case with most gas and that, probably due to its cooling effect, water actually promotes the formation of ultrafine particles.”